Freedom Caucus chairman predicts October CR, clean debt ceiling hike

Freedom Caucus chairman predicts October CR, clean debt ceiling hike
© Greg Nash

House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) believes Congress will adopt a continuing resolution (CR) instead of passing spending bills for 2018 by October and that a clean debt ceiling hike will pass with Democratic support, contrary to the wishes of conservative Republicans. 

“September is going to be a very difficult month. I mean, obviously all of this is coming into play right away, all the fiscal issues and deadlines are going to make it extremely difficult to get everything done in a piece-by-piece basis,” Meadows said Friday morning. 

“We’re almost anticipating a bigger bill with a whole bunch of things put together that would maybe bring a whole lot of Democrats on board and pass with less than a majority of the majority.”

That “omnibus policy package” or a similar piece of legislation, he predicted, would include a clean debt ceiling lift with mostly Democratic support.

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“I think they end up passing it with some reauthorization to get Democrats on board and 40 or 50 Republicans and get it done,” he said.

On appropriations, Meadows said that the timeline was simply too short to reach a deal by the end of September, when funding will run out.

“I think that there is no way to work quick enough to do a normal appropriations process, so a CR will be the result, because of inactivity in the Senate,” Meadows said Friday.

A CR would keep current spending levels in place while averting a government shutdown. But administration officials have spoken unfavorably of a CR, as it would put off increases to military spending and impose a series of restrictions on government functioning. 

Just don’t have the next showdown in late December, Meadows pleaded.

“What I don’t believe it needs to be is one that comes due right before Christmas. Either we do a 30-day or a 45-day or we do something that gets us on the other side of Christmas, because Christmas decisions are not good decisions when they’re fiscal,” he said. “Let’s face it, it makes everybody make bad decisions.”

President Trump and members of his White House have in recent months floated the idea of a “good shutdown,” in which funding would lapse for government operations absent a new spending deal or a CR.

Meadows said it seemed unlikely.

“I don’t see government shutdown as a real risk,” he said.

On Wednesday, Republican Study Committee Executive Director Scott Parkinson also said he expects a CR in the autumn. The RSC is another conservative caucus and includes more than half of House Republicans.